Blood lead testing

Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat to children, and also considered the most preventable.

On June 6, EHC set up to test children’s levels of lead at Birney Elementary School – one of the schools that recently tested high for lead in their water. We tested 63 children and fortunately, did not find any alarming cases and could give parents peace of mind.

Our work to prevent childhood lead poisoning has been a fundamental piece of our organization for many years. With simple tests, grassroots advocacy, increased public knowledge and eventually, statewide regulation, EHC and partners stopped lead contamination in candies several years ago. You can learn more about that victory for our neighborhoods here.

Now, the work continues. Please join us to support a statewide bill that monitors school water for levels of lead (AB 746).

This bill would become a public health victory for our communities by:

  • Ensuring that schools prevent lead in drinking water
  • Protecting children and staff in schools from the health consequences of lead contamination
  • Requiring all public schools to annually test drinking water for lead
  • Standardizing the practice for local educational agencies to notify parents/guardians about lead contamination and shut down the source of lead when it’s identified

If you believe that one child with lead poisoning is too many, please sign this letter and share on social media to tell our elected officials that now is the time to support AB 746.

To learn more about keeping children safe and preventing lead in drinking water, parents should click here.

Since the beginning of my internship with the healthy kids campaign at EHC, I’ve appreciated working in an environment where independence is encouraged and using my voice is expected.

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My recent attendance at a blood-lead testing event, where neighbors can get screened for lead poisoning, reminded me why we work everyday to build strong leaders for healthy communities.

The event took place in City Heights, a neighborhood I’ve called home for almost 15 years. I watched kids come and go throughout the day to get their blood tested for lead. I met pregnant mothers also getting tested to ensure they and their baby will live long, healthy lives. Passionate parents advocating for a healthy future for their children begins even sooner than I had imagined.

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At EHC, we talk about leadership as the core of environmental and social justice. If you ever want to see what true leadership looks like, come to our next blood-lead testing event. You’re bound to be inspired by caring parents doing everything they can to lead their kids toward a healthier future.

Healthy Kids Intern

A clean-looking home doesn’t always mean a healthy home. Many store-bought cleaners are harmful and full of toxic chemicals that you and your family breathe in long after the cleaning is done. Even though they clean the dirt away, your home might even be less healthy than when you started. Luckily, our Healthy Home Experts have tips to keep your home both clean and healthy with non-toxic cleaning techniques that are often much cheaper than toxic products. Below are some tips from our Healthy Homes experts on toxic-free ways to keep your house clean.

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All-Purpose Cleaner (for spots on linoleum, tile and woodwork)


  • Murphy’s Liquid Soap
  1. Squeeze a drop of soap on a wet Easy-wipe
  2. Rub the area to be cleaned briskly. An Easy-wipe will last longer and create less waste than a sponge or paper towels. 


  • Place a small open block or container of baking soda inside the refrigerator to eliminate bad odors

Air Freshener

  • Place small containers of baking soda around your home to absorb bad odors.

Carpet Freshener


  1. Sprinkle small amounts of baking soda on the carpet.
  2. Let it set for an hour
  3. Vacuum the baking soda up – do not use on wet carpet!

Tub And Sink


  • Baking soda
  • Murphy’s Liquid Soap
  1. Sprinkle it on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag.
  2. Add a little soap to the rag for more cleaning power.
  3. Rinse well to avoid leaving a hazy film



  • Baking Soda
  • Boiling Water
  • Vinegar
  • Fresh Lemon
  1. This recipe will free minor clogs. Treat your drains on a regular basis to prevent future clogs.
  2. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain first.
  3. Pour half a cup of vinegar into the drain.
  4. Let it fizz for a few minutes.
  5. Then pour one to two quarts of boiling water into the drain.
  6. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger. If very stubborn, use a mechanical snake. Avoid letting fats, oils or grease into the drain to prevent clogs.

To keep drains smelling good, grind thin lemon slices in the garbage disposal. If you do not have a garbage disposal, squeeze the lemon juice into each drain.



  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Scrubbing pads
  1. Mix one cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste.
  2. Apply to oven surfaces and let stand a little while.
  3. Use the scouring pad for scrubbing most surfaces.
  4. A spatula or bread knife is effective to scrape off large food deposits.

This recipe will require extra scrubbing. Clean up spills in the oven after each use or spot clean it regularly. Do not use this on self cleaning ovens. 

Other Helpful Tips

  • Use the spray bottle to hold a mixture of vinegar and water for quick clean-ups in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Spray the bathtub, shower walls and curtain with vinegar and water to reduce or eliminate mold and soap scum.
  • Keep different colored gloves in the kitchen and bathroom for use only in those areas to avoid spreading germs.

BloodLead event Sept 9 2014 240Last week we partnered with San Diego's Home Safe Home program and the La Maestra Family Clinic to offer blood-lead tests to children and pregnant women.

After spending weeks canvassing the community, educating community members on the importance of lead-poisoning prevention and recruiting families for our free blood-lead testing event, our event turned out to be a fantastic success. We tested more than 100 children and spread awareness about the hazards of lead poisoning and tips for prevention.

BloodLead event Sept 9 2014 234Did you know 75 percent of homes built before 1979 contain some lead-based paint? Lead is most commonly found on exterior-painted surfaces, interior woodwork, doors and windows. EHC recommends children get a blood-lead test every year until age six to prevent blood-lead poisoning.

During the testing, children would often ask, “Why are you doing this?” Engaging in these important conversations about lead poisoning with children as well as parents goes a long way toward fulfilling EHC's goals of awareness and prevention. Get more information about the hazards of lead here, and stay tuned for our next community blood-lead testing event. 
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safe-routes-to-school-planning-ehcI never thought stop signs would mean so much in my life. Last week I joined the community of Old Town National City in celebrating the inauguration of a safe route to school on Coolidge Avenue. We have been working with residents, the City of National City and other stakeholders to improve the quality of life for almost 10 years; the completion of the Safe Routes to School Program along Coolidge Ave is one of many great things to come to Old Town.

On Thursday, August 14th, the community convened on 16th and Coolidge Avenue and walked together to Kimball Elementary. You could safe-routes-to-school-bike-rack-ehcfeel the joy, pride and sense of accomplishment with every step; the city had heard the community voice and listened. Residents confirmed how proud they were to have been involved in the planning process.

Just two years ago, EHC’s National City Community Action Team audited the Coolidge Avenue using the Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index to identify safety needs and priorities. With this feedback, the city put stop signs at intersections, expanded street corners to slow traffic, created bike lanes and installed bike racks, improvedsafe-routes-to-school-hopscothc-ehc the student pick-up and drop-off area at the school and increase outdoor lighting and shading. 

And on Thursday morning, children and parents alike rejoiced at the improvements along Coolidge Avenue. The completion of this project has brought the community together to ensure their safety walking and biking to school- and the celebratory spirit was contagious.

As we know, the community voice can have a profound impact. The left image below is of the street just one block away from Coolidge Avenue to show what Coolidge looked like before the Safe Routes to School project. On the right is what Coolidge Avenue looks like today. The safe route has crossing pathways, stop signs and defined bike lanes. 



We have much more to do, but for now let us savor our victories and cherish the profound impact of the united community voice in the creation of healthy neighborhoods for all. 

- Carolina Martinez
EHC policy advocate